The art world is often flooded with many varieties of printed art that are sold as limited edition prints. It’s often difficult to determine which of these prints has more value than the other unless you know what to look for. Luckily, famous artists will also use an intricate coding system to let potential buyers know what they are buying. This helps to determine how much that print is worth based on what kind of print it actually is.
Learn what kind of print you have
You might own a limited edition print and have an idea of what it’s worth, yet many codes are used that separate what kind of print it is. An artist that uses a variety of printing methods to create a print often separates these prints into categories based on size, run numbers, artist and trial proofs, and limited editions. It gets a bit complicated however, an artist will also make rare proofs just for printers, publishers, and exhibitions.
Often, rare proofs can find their way into the hands of poorly-trained art dealers who do not know the value of spotting a print that is worth more than it is. This is why looking for a print with an A/P, E.A, B.A.T., H/C, or P/P marking on it will be exciting news. These are all very specific types of prints that have a notable meaning. Here’s how they work:
A/P or P/P
This is where you can find an artist proof (A/P) that has gone through various stages before a final print is selected. These can include trial proofs, artist proofs, printer proofs, and bon á tirer proofs (B.A.T.)
Any A/P that you come across that has different colours, ideas, or compositions is clearly a work in progress. These tend to be worth more than finished artist prints since these may have all been experiments to get the right look that the artist wanted.
These prints may have also been only for the printer to use as a reference while getting specific colours correct. Printers don’t often let P/P (printer proofs) out of their sight and are kept locked up most of the time. They do slip through into the artwork once in a while.
These are another name for A/P and P/P prints that aren’t meant to be sold. These are only for the artist or the printer and are simply part of the stages of the printing process. When they do find their way into a collector’s hands they are considered very rare and thus more value they become to an avid collector.
This is a French word meaning (hors d commerce) which translates to ‘do not sell’ since these are artist samples only. These are prints that the artist will use when presenting their work to galleries and art dealers. These are also rare since it typically takes the passing of an artist and is usually sold in many high-end collector circles.
This is what a printer will use to guide them in printing anything that is labelled B.A.T. and is also a French word. This is called ‘bon & aacute; tirer’ and means (read for printing). The printing company doesn’t sell these unless they slip through the cracks and end up in the hands of an art dealer for some reason.
Other prints you already know
With the head-spinning selection of prints that make their way to art dealers, you will also find that limited edition prints are the gold standard for being more common. These will include signed or unsigned prints, numbered prints or limited edition prints.
Signed or unsigned prints
These are official prints from an artist that may or may not be signed by the original artist at some point. Unsigned prints don’t hold as much value as a signed print unless that unsigned print is rare or was limited for some reason. Artists that aren’t living anymore and have signed a print will certainly have a higher value if they are sought after by art collectors.
Numbered prints and limited edition prints
The correct spot to see a numbered print is on the lower left side of a picture or print and tells you how many prints were made and which numbered print it is at the top half. If it shows 1/10 -then only 10 prints were made with the (1) letting you know it’s the first of that series. Artists can choose to make open prints that aren’t numbered and will be lower in value.
Numbered prints are always valuable since these are made in a series that are each numbered by hand by the artist. They can also be called limited edition prints if they are very limited by their numbers which make them pricier by comparison. If these happen to be signed then they will be worth more on top of that.
These are prints that are found at specialised printing shops that are reproducing a certain picture or print from a selected artist. Even if they are high-quality prints they aren’t actual prints by the artist and could be potentially illegal if they are copied without permission by the artist. Repo prints aren’t worth much at all since they aren’t official prints.
What to do with a limited edition print?
If you do find an original art piece that comes from an art dealer or from a gallery it’s always best to frame a painting or print from a respectable framing store. They can recommend which styles of borders and materials will be best to use. This helps ensure that a valuable print is framed using materials that won’t damage your print.
Painting framers are another good source since a high-quality frame enhances an original picture with respect and adds more value to your investment. Don’t settle for a local framer that doesn’t have a full-service framing shop within the store itself. Often, a good frame can be just as costly as the materials that are used. It can also make a smaller print appear larger just by expanding the border and frame around selected rare prints.